Reports of past abuse of classmates, including those with disabilities, surfaced online recently and sparked a backlash on social media, along with demands for Oyamada’s resignation.
Keigo Oyamada, a Japanese composer working on the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony, quit Monday after coming under fire for bullying classmates during his childhood.
Reports of his past abuse of classmates, including those with disabilities, surfaced online recently and sparked a backlash on social media plus demands for Oyamada’s resignation.
- Games organisers initially said he would stay on because he had shown remorse. Hours after Oyamada submitted his resignation, they reversed their position and called his actions “absolutely unacceptable.” They said their earlier decision to let Oyamada stay on in light of his apology, and the short time left before the opening ceremony, was “wrong.”
- “We offer our deepest apologies for the offence and confusion caused to so many during this time,” organisers said in a statement.
- Some critics had said he should hold a news conference and apologize in person. Others questioned why he hadn’t apologized earlier.
- In a statement on 18 July, Atsuko Kubo, head of an association of families of the mentally disabled, “strongly protested” against Oyamada’s past actions and said it was disturbing he had targeted the disabled, who were less likely to fight back, and that he still bragged about it years later.
- Earlier on Monday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Oyamada’s past bullying goes against government policy of achieving an inclusive society and “cannot be tolerated.”
- Oyamada, 52, also known as Cornelius, apologized online last week.
- “I sincerely accept the opinions and advice I have received, express my gratitude, and will keep them in mind for my future actions and thoughts,” he said on his Twitter and Facebook accounts.
- “I apologise from the bottom of my heart.”
- Oyamada, whose works have been compared with the American rock musician Beck, talked about the abuse in Japanese magazine interviews he gave in the 1990s.
What actions have the organisers taken?
- A segment of the music Oyamada composed for Friday’s opening ceremony will not be used.
- The musician will also be removed from his planned role in the Paralympics opening event, organising committee CEO Toshiro Muto told reporters at a late-night news conference on 19 July.
Past instances of resignation for the Games
- Oyamada’s is the latest resignation to plague the Games. Yoshiro Mori resigned as organising committee president over remarks perceived as sexist. Hiroshi Sasaki also stepped down as creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies after suggesting a Japanese actress should dress like a pig.
How is the event shaping up with COVID-19 restrictions in place?
- The ceremony will be held without spectators to curb the spread of coronavirus infections, although some officials, guests and media will attend.
- However, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government faces criticism for prioritising the Olympics despite the public’s health concerns amid the resurgence of the infections.
(With inputs from The Associated Press)